כ״ג באייר ה׳תשע״ז (May 19, 2017)

Bava Batra 118a-b: Those Without a Portion

As we learned on yesterday’s daf there is a disagreement about how the portions of the Land of Israel were divided up – according to the families that left Egypt during the Exodus, according to the individuals who entered the land after 40 years in the desert, or by using both methods. A baraita that was quoted earlier seemed to indicate that there were some people who did not receive a portion at all – that the portion of the meraglim (the spies) was divided between Yehoshua and Calev. Furthermore, according to the baraita, the mitlonenim (the complainers) and adat Koraḥ (those who joined Koraḥ’s rebellion against Moshe’s rule) also received no part of the land.

The source for these exceptions stems from the argument made by the daughters of Zelopheḥad who were appealing to receive their father’s portion. In their introductory argument they clarified that their father deserved a portion of land. They said (Bamidbar 27:3 – as interpreted by the baraita):

“Our father died in the desert…” – this refers to their father, Zelopheḥad

“And he was not part of the company…” – that is, the company of spies

“That gathered themselves together against God…” – the complainers

“In the company of Koraḥ…” – those who joined in Koraḥ’s rebellion.

Since the sin that led to his death – which some identify with the sin of the mekoshesh eitzim (the individual who gathered wood on Shabbat) – was his own, he did not deserve to lose his right to the land as did the other transgressors.

It is obvious that this discussion follows the opinion that the land was divided according to the families that left Egypt, since all of the people who are presented as having lost their inheritance were part of the Exodus, but did not enter the land. According to this, some of the rishonim ask why Zelopheḥad’s daughters needed to complain. After all, weren’t they still going to get their grandfather, Ḥefer’s portion? Rabbeinu Yona points out Zelopheḥad was a firstborn and had rights to a double portion of his father’s inheritance. Had he been involved in one of these groups then his daughters would have lost out on their opportunity for that extra portion.

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